Homily: Fourth Sunday of Lent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

4th Lent pater

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT (B)
GOSPEL REFLECTION
By Rev. Fr.Allen Baclor Abadines
*

Readings:
First Reading: 2 Chronicles 36:14-17a,19-23
Responsorial Psalm: Let my tongue cling to my mouth if I do not remember you!
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
Gospel: John 3:14-21
*
GOSPEL: John 3:14-21
Jesus said to Nicodemus:”Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life,
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned, but the one who does not believe is condemned already; for not having believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ
*
*
REFLECTION
In today’s Gospel text, we encountered a very interesting figure in the person of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was a teacher and held a very important position among religious leaders. Most of the religious leaders hated Jesus so much. Probably, they were jealous because of Jesus’ growing popularity among the people. People came to Jesus to listen to him. They came to Jesus to seek spiritual and physical healing. They came to Jesus because of his holiness. For sure, Nicodemus must have heard a lot about Jesus, and eventually, he became a silent admirer of him despite the growing opposition from among his associates. He wanted to know Jesus more…there was a growing desire in him to listen to Jesus about God and His Kingdom. But he was afraid for his reputation and status as a Pharisee. He was afraid that his associates might condemn him. And so Nicodemus came to Jesus in secret under the cover of darkness of the night to avoid being seen. I am not really a fan of Nicodemus. For to me, if we really love Jesus and have faith in him then we should be courageous enough to come out in the open to profess our faith in him. Either we are for Jesus or are against him. Either we are for righteousness or for sin. Either we are in the light or we are in the dark. Either we are for the love of God or for the evil one. There should be nothing in between. Our love for Jesus should be complete.But one thing good about Nicodemus was that at least he still approached Jesus and he listened to him. Despite his fears, he still sought Jesus.
The concept of a loving and a forgiving God was not easy for the Jewish people to comprehend. God for them is the God of the law. That God was a God who will judge and will give punishment to the sinners. That God is angry and unforgiving of the unrighteous. So Jesus took this opportunity to explain to Nicodemus, that he may be enlightened and may have a different concept of who God really is. He said,”Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
In other words, Jesus in today’s Gospel was telling Nicodemus and us, how great is the love of God for us. God loves and saves us. We may not be worthy of His love …it is actually a privilege gained through pure grace and not on merit. Because of this love that Jesus allowed himself to be lifted up as Moses lifted a bronze serpent so that all those bitten by the deadly serpent of sin might look up to him for healing and redemption. Jesus imparts on us that God is interested more about man’s salvation rather than condemnation. While reflecting on today’s Gospel message, it feels to me that Jesus was like telling me personally – “I love you no matter what. I am not here to punish you nor to judge you. I am here to save you and offer you, love. All I ask of you is to remain in my love.”
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare means to rejoice. We rejoice in the fact that God loves us. This is precisely the message of this Sunday’s liturgy – it’s LOVE! If we pondered deeply in the readings of today, the first reading (2 Chronicles), the second reading (Ephesians), and the Gospel, they shared something in common. It is just like reading a love letter from God. Do we really know how much God loves us? Do we really know how lavishly God wants to bestow his love upon us? God loves us so much that this love leads him to even sacrifice his only-begotten Son. Real love always involved sacrifice. We would know how deep is the love given by what it cost him. Jesus has proven the depth of his love of the Father and mankind for being obedient even unto death. John 15:13 “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jesus further said – You are my friends. And he stretched out his hands and died on the cross.
Having realized the depth of God’s love, it should lead us to grow in our love of God and our fellowmen, It should lead us to a more profound faith in him. That we should learn to love God deeply and to love our fellowmen sincerely.
An old priest was about to retire, and in his farewell party, a parishioner asked him this question. “Father, in your ministry as a priest, you have delivered countless of homilies. I should say, I don’t remember any of them. Would you give me your most important message that I should remember?” And the priest said, “You may not remember any of my words, it’s alright. But this I ask you not to forget – that You are loved! You are loved unconditionally by a greater love than you can ever imagine. God loves you now and forever. What should be your response to this love?”

Advertisements

Homily: Second Sunday Of Lent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

2nd Sunday of Lent1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Second Sunday Of Lent (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.
And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”Peter did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud, there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus.
And they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

___________________

REFLECTION

A German Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” It means to say that part of our human existence is suffering. One doesn’t have to be a Philosopher to prove this. You only have to look around and you’ll see all the sufferings in the world. We see how sick people suffer. We see people suffer because of poverty. We see people suffer because of the abuse from other people. We see people suffer because they feel unable to fit in. They feel like a misfit in the place they live in. That makes them extremely lonely. We also see people suffer because of rejection. We also see people suffer because of a broken relationship.There is in us a need to be accepted, to love and be loved. And when these desires are not met there occur extreme feelings of suffering.

Does God feel our pain? Is God a distant God who really doesn’t care even if we experience sufferings in life? How, then, can God relate to the human pain and challenges when he is God and therefore everything in him is good? This is the mystery that we are to contemplate as we read this Sunday’s Scriptural text. We are now on the Second Sunday of Lent. In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus transfigured before three of his apostles.
Mark 9:2-4 “Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.”

The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus is teaching us a profound
lesson in life. It tells us that just as we experience suffering in life
yet, in the end, the reward will be a share in his glory. We will all be
transfigured just as Jesus himself transfigured before his apostles.
The Apostles Peter, James, and John represent us all. Jesus
invited these apostles so that they may experience Christ’ glory in
preparation for the coming of great suffering in his life i.e.
persecution, crucifixion, and death. The Apostles should
understand that death is not the end because there would be
victory in the resurrection of Jesus.

There is one who understands Human Suffering completely. Jesus understands Human Suffering totally because he himself willingly accepted suffering…Luke 9:22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Yes, Jesus entered into the mystery of suffering, death, and resurrection in order for us to know that he totally understands our pain. Only a God who suffers is a God who truly loves.He knows our hardships and he responds accordingly. And so when our life is replete with hardships and pains and we are ready to give up, always remember that Jesus experienced extreme suffering long before we too have experienced it in life. Our faith tells us that we are never alone in our suffering. God is always with us, giving us consolation and peace.

Suffering, as they say, is a way of purification in order for us to achieve perfection. There are also benefits that could emerge in a seemingly negative reality in life like suffering. We know that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, now character produces hope.
A certain Joel Fritz relates his personal experience, he said:
“I remember a crippled man in the hospital where I was the chaplain for a few years. He was unbelievably disfigured. His body was twisted like a corkscrew and all he could do was sit in bed, day and night. If someone came to visit him, he could not even turn his head enough to make eye contact.
Whenever I came around to visit him, my standard greeting would be,”Well, how are things today?”
And his answer was always the same: “Just fine, thank you.”
Now, deep down in my own heart, I knew that if I were answering for him, I could truthfully have said each time, “Well, things are a lot worse with me than with you,” and I could have understood.
But seeing this man suffering and hearing him answer so lightheartedly, always did something to me: I always left the room both humble and joyful.”

Suffering has also become a demand in following our Lord. Luke 9:23Then he said to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” We cannot be his disciples if we reject carrying our Cross because Jesus’ way is the way of the Cross.

We are ready to embrace our Crosses in life knowing deeply that God is very much present in all our sufferings. We experience the pain not out of despair but hope. God provides the necessary strength that we may persevere because in the end awaits victory. The Victory of Jesus who was triumphant on the Cross.

Homily: First Sunday Of Lent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

temp2

GOSPEL REFLECTION: First Sunday of Lent (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Mark 1:12-15

After Jesus was baptized, the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan: and he was with the wild beasts, and the Angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

*
____________________________

REFLECTION:

Last Wednesday, the Season of Lent has begun starting with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. Thus my personal spiritual journey has officially commenced. I always make the season of Lent an opportunity to have a forty day self-directed personal retreat. In the same manner that it should also be a season for everyone to take extra steps for some spiritual growth.The ashes that were imposed on our forehead is sending us a strong message i.e. that this time we really mean business. It is time for us once again to show some seriousness in our spiritual life. Thus we are being called to a sincere repentance. “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.” The message of Ash Wednesday is tough since we are being reminded also of our mortal nature.”Remember, man, you are dust, and unto dust, you shall return.” It means to tell us that” One day we shall die.” And therefore there is a need to prepare for the inevitable. We are but pilgrims here on earth. We have our final destination.Heaven should be our goal and our reward. In the end, if we wanna succeed in this journey then there is a need for us to heed the Lenten call. It is a challenge to all of us – i.e. to repent and to change our ways. The word “metanoia” should be on our mind. It is a Greek word which means a radical change of mind and heart.
To make metanoia possible in us, we need to go to the basic.The First stage should be a recognition of our sinfulness and weaknesses. The second stage should be an avoidance of anything that could lead us to sin. In the “Lord’s Prayer,” we say “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

What is Temptation? It is an occasion of enticement. A seduction to commit sin. It is a deception trying to present something to be good when in fact it is not. Sin is presented to us as something pleasurable and harmless, thus we find committing them so attractive.

Is it a sin to be tempted? Have we committed sin when we were tempted?

The temptation is NOT a sin per se. Even our Lord Jesus allowed himself to be tempted by the devil, but he did not sin. There’s a common misconception that one commits sin when he is tempted. But no, the person is just being enticed to sin. It only becomes sin when one entertained it and took pleasure in it.

The good news is that no one can make us sin. Not even the devil. They can only seduce us into committing sin. But it is an entirely personal choice. It is a decision that we make. “You can lead the horse to water but you cannot make it drink,” so to speak.The bad news, however, is that man is weak. We all have our weaknesses and shortcomings. We all commit mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. Even St. Paul struggles, “I do not understand what I do. There are good things that I want to do but I do not do. Yet there are evil that I hate, but I do.” And therefore we need help. Before the Lord, we should humble ourselves and admit that on our own, we can not make things possible. We need God’s help as we say, “Lead us not into temptation.”

In the face of the Test, Jesus wants us to succeed. He wants us to pass the test. This is the very reason why in today’s Gospel text our Lord Jesus showed us the way to stay strong when we face temptation.
The Gospel relates to us that after a forty day of Prayer and Fasting in the wilderness, our Lord Jesus was tempted by Satan. The evangelist St. Mark in today’s Gospel text did not tell us how Jesus was tempted but St. Matthew gave us a detailed account i.e. Satan challenged our Lord to do three different things.

The First Temptation is to turn the stones into loaves. “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The Second Temptation was meant to test God himself. “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you.”. But Jesus said, “Do not put your God to the test.”

And Third Temptation concerns power and wealth. “All these I will give you if you fall down and worship me.’ But Jesus said, “Away with you Satan, for it is written, worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”
*
____________________________

Story (by Bruno Hagspiel) Once upon a time the devil decided to go out of business. He offered all of his tools for sale. He attractively displayed the whole bad looking lot: Malice, Hatred, Envy, Jealousy… Each was marked with a price tag.
Apart from them lay a harmless looking wedge-shaped tool, very much worn out, but priced higher than any of the others. Someone asked the devil what tool that was.
“That’s discouragement, “he replied.
“But why is it priced so high?”
“Because,” answered the devil, “discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. With discouragement, I can pry open and get inside a person’s conscience, when I cannot get near him with any other tools. And once I’m inside his conscience, I can use him in any way that suits me best. It is so much worn because I can use it with nearly anybody since very few people know that it belongs to me.”
A person is never weaker than when he or she is fed-up, is down in the dumps. He or she couldn’t care less about anything.. and then anything can happen.. and usually does.
————————————————

Yes, Bruno was right! When a person feels so discouraged and when he is ready to give up, that’s the time when he is easily tempted. I notice that I am most vulnerable when I am lonely and feeling so low. But when I am happy and contented, that’s the time that I am spiritually strong. The bottom line, therefore,e is to be always spiritually joyful. A joyful person cannot be easily tempted.

There are essential elements we need to be able to succeed in the face of Temptations – I call these the three “Ps” – Perseverance, Prayers, Providence. Saints had to persevere and not to give up. Persevere and not to lose heart. We may be imperfect but our perseverance could lead us to perfection. Practice makes perfect. Then Pray, we need to pray. For when we ask God for the strength he will never fail us. Lastly, believe in God’s Providence and grace. A recognition that we are weak may help but we also need to recognize that God provides us the grace that we could be strong.
Remember, Temptations can only have power over us if we let them in.

In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul advises, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

LENT (A Season of Renewal) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

LENT -renewal

LENT (A Season of Renewal)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

*

To me, Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent is a personal sojourn where I could spend time for my reflection, my personal discipline and sacrifices, and contemplation on the will of God. Yes, it should be spent in a way so that one can make room for some spiritual growth in their lives. Thus making this season an opportunity for self-examination, indeed, is of paramount importance. Our main goal should be to improve our personal relationship with God. This could be done by a sincere repentance of our sins, a recognition that we are flawed and our willingness to allow God’s grace to work in us with the resolve to change our ways to be better Christians. On Ash Wednesday, ergo, my spiritual journey has begun.
*
It is so called Ash Wednesday simply because of the traditional imposition of ashes on the forehead reminding us of our mortality. It is a recognition that God did not intend for us to stay here on earth for all eternity. We have a beginning and precisely our existence here on earth will come to an end. We are all gonna die! Memento mori (Remember, that you have to die.) Mindful of this truth could lead to a reality that we should not be short-sighted. There are so many temptations for a man to give more weight on the matters here on earth that matters in heaven; on things that are passing rather than things that are eternal. Thus Genesis 3: 19 reminds us, “Remember, man, you are dust and unto dust, you shall return.” We do not settle for less. We should aim for something great.
*
Where did those Ashes come from? The ashes are usually the burnt Palm leaves which were used and blessed during the previous celebration of Palm Sunday. In our case, every year we ask our parishioners to collect those dried palm leaves they took home from last year.
*
The imposition of Ashes on our forehead is highly symbolical. It is not only a reminder of our mortality but it is also a sign of our humility.
*

The word Lent comes from the Old English word “Lencten” which means “Springtime.” or “Lengthen” which has something to do with the changing of the season in which the days are getting longer. Spring gives us an imagery of new life, a new beginning, and growth hence Lenten season gives us the same idea, it’s about making a fresh start and or renewal.
Lent is considered a forty-day observance regardless of the fact that the whole Lenten season is more than forty days (46 days). It is because we do not count Sundays during the Lenten season.
Biblically, the number forty has its own significance. Like, during the time of Noah, there was a great flood. It rained for forty days and nights (Gen. 7:4)
The Israelites wandered in the desert and ate Manna for forty years.
In Exodus 24:18, We saw Moses in communion with God in a mountain for forty days and nights.
And in the NT, Jesus spent forty days and nights praying and fasting.
*
On Ash Wednesday, we create a spirit of repentance and penance. We observe on this day Fasting and Abstinence. This is a one day, besides Good Friday when we strictly observe Fasting and Abstinence. The Law of Fasting binds those who are 18 years of age until 59. The Law of Abstinence binds those who are 14 years old and older. A sincere observance makes a good preparation for Easter.
*
An observance of spiritual sacrifices like Fasting and Abstinence is not meant to show off and to brag about it. It is most pleasing to the Lord when it is done with sincerity and humility.

We, therefore, ask God for a sincere and contrite heart. So that in our journey through life we can always create a pure and clean heart

Homily:6th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

6th Sunday pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 6th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Mark 1:40-45

A man with leprosy came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling said to Jesus, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

After sternly warning him Jesus sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

But the man went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the word so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; people came to Jesus from every quarter.
*

________________________________________________

REFLECTION

There’s nothing more pitiable than the plight of people with leprosy during the time of our Lord Jesus. Leprosy during Jesus’ time was considered by the Jews as God’s punishment as it was openly associated with sin.People who contracted leprosy were not allowed to mingle with other people since they are regarded unclean. This is the reason why they were thrown out of their homes and out of their community. Whenever they come near people they need to shout “unclean, unclean!” so as to give warning that they may be avoided. Since there was no cure for leprosy during that time, they were considered as the living dead. Theirs was a hopeless case. Lepers didn’t have a family to cling to, and not even a community where they could ask for help. They were on their own. They just try to continue living while waiting for the time to die. They were literally stripped off of their rights and dignity. Getting near people can even put them to risk. Most of them were even stoned to death should they come near people. They received no pity nor compassion. It was a law then not to get near a lepper because it would make one ceremonially unclean.

Today’s Gospel text comes as a surprise. The man with leprosy dared to come near Jesus. It was such a bold act. He took the risk even with the knowledge that it might cost him his life. It shows us how desperate that man must be.Probably the man must have heard something about Jesus. And so realizing that Jesus was just nearby, he did not let such opportunity pass by. He knew that Jesus was his only hope. He had great needs. His needs must be satisfied whatever it takes.And he believed that Jesus was the answer to his need. He had faith in Jesus and he had faith in God.

Something is admirable in the way the man approach our Lord Jesus.It reveals not only his courage and his faith but he also shows us great humility. He did not demand. He did not directly ask Jesus. He felt unworthy to present his request. He only said to him “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Here we learned an important lesson in life i.e. if we need something from God, we should ask him in humility, realizing that everything is but out of God’s goodness. We do not demand anything but we only rely on God’s compassion and grace. And so our Lord Jesus was filled with love to the man when he said: “I do choose, be made clean.” And not only that Jesus stretched out his hands and touched him. He was not afraid to touch the man. He was not even afraid to violate the prescribed rule during that time. Jesus was so focused on his love for the man.  His main preoccupation at that very moment is to let him feel the love of God.And so the man not only experienced the healing touch of Jesus but the healing compassion of God.

There may be times in our lives that we may have experienced the same way like the leper in the Gospel. There may be times that we too must have felt desperate, hopeless and alone. Some people may have felt cast out, alienated and abandoned. But do not ever believe that we are totally alone. God is with us, reaching out to us and touching us.

In the Eucharist, every time we receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, haven’t we feel God’s healing touch through Jesus? Every time, I receive Jesus in the Eucharist I feel peace, comfort, and assurance for my soul. The Eucharist gives me healing and strength. I feel so fortunate that even in my weakness and insecurities Jesus is there comforting and reassuring me.

If we look around we see sufferings of every kind. A lot of people need comfort and healing.Many are suffering physically, emotionally and spiritually. May we be instrumental in revealing the depth of God’s compassion to each and everyone we come in contact with.Let everyone know how much God loves us.
..

INSIGHTS: ASH WEDNESDAY by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

ash wednesday5

ASH WEDNESDAY
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines*

To me, Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent is a personal sojourn where I could spend time for my reflection, my personal discipline and sacrifices, and contemplation on the will of God. Yes, it should be spent in a way so that one can make room for some spiritual growth in their lives. Thus making this season an opportunity for self-examination, indeed, is of paramount importance. Our main goal should be to improve our personal relationship with God. This could be done by a sincere repentance of our sins, a recognition that we are flawed and our willingness to allow God’s grace to work in us with the resolve to change our ways to be better Christians. On Ash Wednesday, ergo, my spiritual journey has begun.
*
It is so called Ash Wednesday simply because of the traditional imposition of ashes on the forehead reminding us of our mortality. It is a recognition that God did not intend for us to stay here on earth for all eternity. We have a beginning and precisely our existence here on earth will come to an end. We are all gonna die! Memento mori (Remember, that you have to die.) Mindful of this truth could lead to a reality that we should not be short-sighted. There are so many temptations for a man to give more weight on the matters here on earth that matters in heaven; on things that are passing rather than things that are eternal. Thus Genesis 3: 19 reminds us, “Remember, man, you are dust and unto dust, you shall return.” We do not settle for less. We should aim for something great.
*
Where did those Ashes come from? The ashes are usually the burnt Palm leaves which were used and blessed during the previous celebration of Palm Sunday. In our case, every year we ask our parishioners to collect those dried palm leaves they took home from last year.
*
The imposition of Ashes on our forehead is highly symbolical. It is not only a reminder of our mortality but it is also a sign of our humility.
*
Lent is considered a forty-day observance regardless of the fact that the whole Lenten season is more than forty days (46 days). It is because we do not count Sundays during the Lenten season.
Biblically, the number forty has its own significance. Like, during the time of Noah, there was a great flood. It rained for forty days and nights (Gen. 7:4)
The Israelites wandered in the desert and ate Manna for forty years.
In Exodus 24:18, We saw Moses in communion with God on a mountain for forty days and nights.
And in the NT, Jesus spent forty days and nights praying and fasting.
*
On Ash Wednesday, we create a spirit of repentance and penance. We observe on this day Fasting and Abstinence. This is a one day, besides Good Friday when we strictly observe Fasting and Abstinence. The Law of Fasting binds those who are 18 years of age until 59. The Law of Abstinence binds those who are 14 years old and older. A sincere observance makes a good preparation for Easter.
*
An observance of spiritual sacrifices like Fasting and Abstinence is not meant to show off and to brag about it. It is most pleasing to the Lord when it is done with sincerity and humility.

We, therefore, ask God for a sincere and contrite heart. So that in our journey through life we can always create a pure and clean heart

Homily: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

5th Sunday re1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Mark 1:29-39

As soon as Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her and she began to serve them.

That evening at sunset, they brought to Jesus all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons and he would not permit the demons to speak because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.”

He answered, “Let us go to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came out to do.” And Jesus went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

______________________________

REFLECTION:

In today’s Gospel text, the evangelist St. Mark relates to us that it was such a busy day for our Lord Jesus – preaching, curing the sick, expelling demons from possessed people. Yet despite a hectic and tiresome schedule, our Lord Jesus still managed to give time to pray. “In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. This particular text reveals to us that Jesus is indeed a man of prayer. We have seen so many occasions that our Lord Jesus will always find time to pray i.e.  to seek peace, to rest, to contemplate, and to commune with his Father. Thus the Gospel text gives us an important lesson in life i.e. no matter how busy we are with our life we should always find time to pause awhile, to reflect and to pray. A good examination of life is worth it in order for us to have a clearer direction as we contemplate our journey through life. The Philosopher Socrates puts it beautifully, “An unreflected life is not worth living.”

Today, therefore, I’d like to talk about the importance of prayer. Every one of us knows what prayer is all about. Prayer is our direct line with heaven. A prayer is a form of communication that allows us to converse with God. Making it simple, Prayer is talking to God. It may be simple as it sounds, but to some, it could be a struggle. Some people find prayer as a challenge. Well, it’s a busy world, it’s a complicated world. And therefore, there are people who find prayer complicated too.

But to pray for me is a privilege. Can you imagine, when we pray we are making a personal audience with God? Prayer is man’s opportunity to appear before God and therefore such a huge honor on the part of man. Like, if you are invited to the Vatican to have an audience with the Pope…wouldn’t you feel privileged? Yes, because not everybody has the chance to be up close and personal to a somebody like the Pope. If you are invited for a personal audience with Queen Elizabeth, wouldn’t you feel the same way too? If you feel privileged having such opportunities with personalities like the Pope or Queen Elizabeth, how much more should you feel privileged to have a personal encounter with God? Prayer is like that. The good news is that we don’t have to arrange for an appointment. We don’t bother to go somewhere else. You can have a personal audience with God anytime and anywhere we want. That’s the best part of it.

Some people would say ‘I don’t feel like praying.’ Prayer is not a matter of feeling. We don’t pray only when we feel like praying. Like we don’t eat only when we feel like eating. Prayer is essential in our lives like eating our meals. How can we live without our communion with God? Our Lord tells us to pray without ceasing.

When we pray, we should pray like talking to a loved one or to your best friend. We become more confident knowing that God is a loved one or a best friend to us, a someone who loves us unconditionally. God is not a distant God. This is the very reason of God’s incarnation in the person of Jesus. Jesus reveals to us the kind of love God has for us.

In the First Reading of this Sunday, we encounter Job. Job’s life and example are worth our contemplation. Job was severely tested. He experienced extreme tribulations in his lifetime yet his faith never wavered. He trusted and trusted all the way. When we pray, therefore, we should have Job’s faith in a loving God.

When we feel some kind of aridity in our prayer and spiritual life, ask the Lord for strength. The disciples humbly admitted that they didn’t know everything that led them to ask Jesus – “Lord, teach us how to pray.” We should humbly ask the same thing too.